A Sound Bath Experience
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
Drenched in good vibrations
The resonance peaked within my teeth, then expanded through my gums and in another moment my entire jawline held in vibration same as the sound surrounding. More sensation than pain, though my brain first thought it as pain, as my fillings felt momentarily separated from every tooth. Once crawling in the jaw, it became accepted as unexpected experience, as sensation, as immersion.
The sound grew louder still. And faster. Sound and vibration and cyclic harmonic over wash of which my body seemed both familiar and unfamiliar. The rising constant joined by individual tones, deep and high and low, multiple octaves of the same note and it felt, yes, it did feel as a bath. A sensation of floating, of buoyancy within warm water rising of tide. Not out of body, but deeply in of body, within suspended energy, sound replacing all other senses. Yet there did come sight. A vision with closed eyes. Helicopter blades above me. Directly above me. As seen from laying horizontal, looking skyward to rotors rapid in black and white repeating.
I am horizontal in The Soulful Place.
Not a reference of condition, but indeed, in an establishment called The Soulful Place. A small yoga studio nestled in an aging L-shaped plaza not too far from a main drag of southern Virginia Beach. For mixing up our date-nights, my wife and I have begun exploring yoga classes and events outside of our regular gym’s offerings. Most of the area studios are too expensive for us to join monthly, but thankfully many offer drop-in classes or single events for a reasonable price.
This night is about sound.
We both love singing bowls and joined a small group for chance to immerse in the sounds of a Tibetan tradition going back thousands of years. We have listened to singing bowls many times before, either live, or recorded through meditation apps. In our yoga adventures it is not usual to encounter a teacher with one or two bowls for adding to an end of practice Savasana mediation. This night, though, was a very different experience.
The social media promotion described an event of sound bathing, a chance for holistic healing, Other than the endless overwhelming stress and existential dread of living in freefalling societal decline, neither of us felt in a place for need of healing. We just like sound bowls and wanted to give it a whirl. Our practitioner was Brien Egan, described in his bio as a Sound Healer, Reiki & Karuna Reiki Master, as well as Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. Any one of the titles seemed enough, but I suppose this type of profession demands multiple revenue streams.
Our first impressions of the Healer were that he was late. As we sat quietly at class start time without a class, our organizer and The Soulful Place founder, Amanda Baker, spoke gracious apology while in constant stress checking her phone for his whereabouts. She was neither surprised nor dismayed, hinting Egan’s perceptions of time may be slightly different than our own.
His entry came with a rush, and I felt a slight gratitude and immediate connection the Master also lived an overscheduled stuck in traffic life like ourselves. We were treated to seeing the singing bowls appear one at a time from their clever carry bags. The vessels beautifully sculpted of crystal, established an immediate grace as he placed each around his mat in the LED candlelit space. He wore the inked and bearded look of his generation, comfortably combined with the disheveled Haight-Ashbury style of the his parent's time. His clothes, though, unattractively bagged in a maybe he slept in them last night wrinkle.
The tardiness had us closing our eyes a mere 15 minutes behind schedule, with the session originally schedule for 90 minutes. And for this time nothing was required of us except our presence. Nothing was expected. There would be no phones or computers or TVs or screens of distraction. There would be only time of meditative focus and acceptance. In this era of six-inch-high modernity, most of my meditations occur through my phone.
The difference of the live sound coming from live hands in a room filled with like souls is superior in every way.
This night was the most tone variations we had ever experienced, as Brien used a dozen bowls, plus other smaller toning devices, included a deep gong. And as the mediation grew deeper, he used the sound of his own voice, with deep, beautiful, shamanic chants and canters, counter-sounds, and lion’s breath rushes both inward and outward. His talent natural, his commitment to craft complete, this was an offering both unusual and previously unexperienced for us.
The power of sound, vibration, and of frequency brought us experiences of feeling a largeness too often associated with drugs or psychedelics. And there were fleeting moments of complete humility, of a smallness so often overlooked as a means for relaxation and wellness. The full body floating sensation, and my personal vision of a moment of trauma never consciously seen, though the scene of a life-helicopter carrying me from death to life has often been reimagined, confirmed our practitioner’s techniques were genuine.
The time felt too short as his words of conclusion brought us back to reality.
Mindy and I are unconvinced we experience healing in these types of environments. We have both healed from major events, physical and emotional, and going through true healing teaches this is only about time and daily selfcare. It is not about singular events. But like our yoga, or our running, or our eating real food, this did make us more aware of how destressing with sound should be a part of maintaining our personal wellbeing.
This was good stuff. It is rare to find places where only calming sounds reside. Our backyard birdsong is usually accompanied by the echo of constant traffic, the screech of sirens, or the cacophony of area military aviation. Home hours are too often filled with TV, music, and though dulled, the outside noise of our very busy world is always invading. A genuine hour spent in meditative sound is a very special thing.
We are glad to have found Amanda and The Soulful Place. It is these small area studios that keep the genuine need for community and connection available. We will certainly follow Brien’s practices and return to sound bathe in his lovely talent again. I can only hope, though, on our next visit, my teeth won't ache the following day.
1. The Soulful Place, https://www.thesoulfulplacevb.com/
2. Brien Egan, https://www.soundhealingconservatory.org/about
5. Title photo by Petr Sidorov, Unsplash.
6. Water photo by Yoann Boyer, Unsplash.